By the time you read this, you already know who the new president is today. But what I do know is that I see some positive lessons from Barack Obama that give me hope for the future. Obama had been a great leadership figure who was even featured in an article by Melbado. To learn from his ways, let’s start with the death of his grandmother.
First, he interrupts his campaign to spend a few days with her. Yesterday he shed a tear at his standard speech in one of the swing states. Well, here’s a real person! This is not a machine that wants to achieve its goal at all costs. This is someone who measures with the human dimension. But leading a large organization is something completely different, isn’t it? I strongly disagree with that. If a top director decides to lay off 1000 employees, he must know how that feels, how it feels with the employees, and only then make a decision.
Of course, it is much easier to see people as numbers on a spreadsheet, but that is a pity. Machines don’t make decisions properly, or they make the wrong decision. The idea that you treat each other differently in an organization (business, professional) than in a normal situation with normal people, your friends say, is bad nonsense. The same principles of good manners, compassion, empathy, and clarity continue to apply whether you’re dealing with family, friends, coworkers, subordinates, or your boss.
Indication number 2 is the quality of the organization around Obama. First, he defeats the killed candidate Hillary Clinton. He then runs an impeccable campaign with incredibly enthusiastic employees. It seems that Obama can recognize people’s qualities and succeeds in attracting the right people who then work for him with unprecedented enthusiasm. This is an underestimated quality of successful leaders that is critical. Indication number 3 is the way he dealt with the affair with his pastor.
A few days later he gave a speech with the theme that the sensitive issue of the relationship between black and white has several sides. A difficult and complex message that people basically don’t want to hear. Nevertheless, he managed to build credit with this complex message. Our politicians can take the issue of the new Dutch as an example. That is a similar subject where you have to broadcast two messages at the same time: message 1: new Dutch people belong completely and are ours, message 2: we expect the following from new (and exactly the same from old) Dutch people because we care about you, and if it does not succeed in fulfilling those expectations, there is a problem and we intervene. Obama is able to send out such a message, I don’t see Dutch politicians doing it yet.
The new president does not have to be bored for the time being. That much is clear. It seems that Obama has some crucial leadership skills in place that can help him face the challenges ahead. I hope it will be him, and I hope that with my cold ground analysis I am close to reality.